Last updateMon, 29 Jun 2015 7pm

LOS ANGELES Thursday, July 2nd 2015 2:49


Using The N-Word

Clinton Galloway
WHO WE ARE-Somehow it has become acceptable to use racial slurs as long as they are directed at yourself. The fact is they are rarely directed at you but to someone else. The most glaring example of this is the use of the N-word. I need say no more because we all understand what the N-word is. The extensive use of the word in modern hip-hop and…

‘LA Is Not Designed To Work’

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is a sprawling enterprise with 32,000 employees and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. But according to Rick Cole, the City’s former Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, “LA is not designed to work." Our City’s operations are relatively simple compared to Los Angeles County and other large cities such as New…

SCOTUS Supports the People, Okays California’s Citizen-Driven Redistricting Commission

Deirdre Fulton
NO MORE SECRET BACKROOMS RUN BY POLITICIANS-In a decision hailed as a "major victory for voters," the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Arizona ballot initiative, adopted by voters in 2000, which took redistricting power away from elected politicians and gave it to a nonpartisan commission. The 5-4 decision (pdf), which saw Justice Anthony…

To Latinos Trump Is Bad News

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-This past week businessman Donald Trump announced that he will seek the 2016 Republican nomination for President. We all paid attention to his speech, not for great policy ideas but because he said that “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of…

Supreme Court Aftermath: Meet the New Haters, As Repugnant as the Old Haters

Ken Alpern
HATE POLITICS-The Supreme Court has spoken...again and again and again. And now we're encountering a group of New Haters, as repugnant as the Old Haters, as we discover who is REALLY on the side of Love, Country and Humanity versus that once-marginalized group of emotionally- and intellectually-stunted individuals who now somehow think they're not…

About Time! Neighborhood Councils, NC Alliances: More Comment Time at City Council

Erik Sanjurjo
GUEST WORDS-On Saturday, Council President Herb Wesson gave the keynote speech before the 100+ Neighborhood Council board members and stakeholders gathered for NC Budget Day in City Hall. He announced that in the next Council term he will be folding in neighborhood council related issues under his Rules & Elections Committee, partly to help…

Councilman Parks Sidewalk Repair Plan: Bypass Union Workers

Sharon McNary
CITY HALL-The city of Los Angeles has fallen so far behind on sidewalk repairs, it took a lawsuit to get officials to guarantee more than a billion dollars for repairs. It could take years before the work reaches residential areas because the city must still come up with a strategy for which sidewalks to fix first. But some neighborhoods are…

I Never Believed This Would Happen In My Lifetime

Andrew Sullivan
GUEST WORDS-As Gandhi never quite said … First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win. I remember one of the first TV debates I had on the then-strange question of civil marriage for gay couples. It was Crossfire, as I recall, and Gary Bauer’s response to my rather earnest argument after my TNR cover-story on…

Changing the Way We See Ourselves: Every American Should Adopt a Second Country

Andrés Martinez
TRADE WINDS-About 10 minutes into the soccer game, Sebastian’s cries of “here,” “behind you,” and “cross it” became cries of “aquí,” “atrás,” and “al centro.” I’d never heard so much Spanish voluntarily pour out of my ten-year-old. There is nothing like a hunger for the ball. And nothing like full immersion in a foreign language. I brought…


Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth

Golden Oldie-Johnnie Carson & Betty White-Adam and Eve

Rude. Rude. Rude … orchestra deals with rude cell caller

Whoa! More than 280 million hits. Taylor Swift hit-Bad Blood









NC Grievance Panel Tackling Thorny Issues: ‘Serial Grievers’, Punishment for Boards

UPDATE - In attempting to create a rational but humane system for hearing complaints against neighborhood council governing boards, the grievance working group has made progress.
As I explained in CityWatch last week, the working group seemed to be heading towards an overly authoritarian plan, one in which panels nominated by neighborhood councils would consider complaints from the public, rule on the merits of those complaints, and pass sentence on the offending neighborhood councils.

What concerned me and numerous others was the essentially unlimited scope of punishments envisioned in this process, ranging all the way up to firing an entire governing board of a neighborhood council.

The working group met for one last time on October 19, 2011 and debated this question intensely.

Len Shaffer, president of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, gave an instructive speech in which he attempted to interpret the thinking behind the original directive from the LA City Council.

This required that neighborhood councils include grievance procedures in their rules. Shaffer suggested that the intent went beyond the minimal requirement that aggrieved parties merely have a chance to vent their feelings during public comment.

He suggested that the desire was for something a little stronger, something more like a process by which truly injured parties could explain the basis of their hurt to an impartial group of people and ask for help.

This original concept would be consistent with a formal system of grievance panels such as the ones under discussion, provided that we correctly define and limit what such panels can do.

Shaffer's remarks contained within them the inference that such a grievance system does not automatically have to include a system of punishment, but would better work as a system by which opposing parties could talk things out.

Only if and when a neighborhood council refuses to comply with the rules should it be sanctioned, and even then, this process would have to be carried out by DONE. The discussion was a little more detailed than I have described here, but this briefer version will suffice. The working group was generally sympathetic to this argument.

The suggested plan that ultimately resulted would, if enacted, be a huge improvement over the previous model, as it includes checks and balances that were not in the original.

In essence, the proposal goes like this: A person who is serious about a grievance can file a complaint with DONE and, under the proposed system, DONE would communicate the complaint to the accused neighborhood council governing board and to the grievance panel that is to hear it.

The grievance panel would still be selected out of volunteers nominated by governing boards, but its duties would be a little different than previously envisioned.

In brief, the grievance panel would consider the merits of the complaint, taking care to afford due process to both sides. The panel would then report its findings as to the merit or lack of merit of a complaint. In this sense, the grievance panel would act as a fact finding body, much as a jury would act in a court case. This by itself would be a substantial change in our neighborhood council system, since no such volunteer based fact finding system has been tried so far.

The working group also agreed that a grievance panel could recommend actions to cure a proven offense. For example, suppose a governing board held a meeting in the absence of proper advance notification and someone filed a complaint. This would likely result in a recommendation to redo the meeting with proper notification.

There was some additional debate about whether a grievance panel should go further by recommending punishment. Any such "remedy" would have to be agreed upon and administered by DONE or some other official government body. Even if the system were to go this additional step, the grievance panel itself would have no direct power to punish.

In this proposed system, there is one additional service to be provided by DONE staff. Complaint and grievance letters that come to DONE will be evaluated as to whether the claims would, if factual, rise to the level that is required for them to be considered grievances.

For example, if someone complains about the outcome of a vote by a governing board, and that vote was otherwise legal and proper, this does not rise to the level of a grievable offense. It is just a political decision that one person happens not to like.

Grievances, to be considered actionable, have to rise to the level in which the governing board violates a rule badly enough to do damage to someone's rights or interests.

One other issue came up during the meeting. It is a separate problem that has bedeviled certain neighborhood council boards for years.

It is called 'the serial griever" problem by its victims, and refers to the fact that a few people continue to file complaint after complaint, generally without merit, and often just as a repetition of the same subject. One neighborhood council has received close to 50 complaints from the same person.

In another council, the president has recently received 3 complaints from one individual over the period of a few weeks. This is a drain on peoples' lives and has wasted the time of the City Attorney and of DONE.

In discussion, we asked the people who receive these complaints why they bother to act on them at all. Why not just throw them in a box and ignore them? The answer was that their bylaws require them to go through the whole procedure for any complaint.

The City Attorney and others pointed out that they could change their bylaws and no longer have to respond. The virtue of doing things this way would be that serial grievers could send complaints to DONE, which has paid staff to deal with such things, and DONE would filter out the truly meritless complaints.

Additional discussion included the fact that we have just gone through a year's organizational work  to create the peer mentoring groups and the Roberts Rules instructional group. The purpose of these organizations is to prevent the sorts of actions that lead to complaints and grievances.

The goal is to have a system with enlightened leadership, one that works so well that we won't see a lot of complaints.

(Bob Gelfand is the vice chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and an occasional CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at -cw

Tags: Neighborhood Councils, Grievance System, Len Shaffer, City Council, serial grievers, City Attorney, DONE

Vol 9 Issue 86
Pub: Oct 28, 2011